LFP Police Nab Prolific Catalytic Converter Thief
By Chief Mike Harden
On Monday evening, officers were called to the 19100blk of Ballinger Way for an in-progress theft of a catalytic converter. It was reported the suspect was listening to police radio traffic on his cell phone during the theft. The victim reported several vehicles in the parking lot had missing catalytic converters. Sgt. Adams and Ofc. Zelenock arrived and located the suspect. He was then arrested and charged with theft.
In the investigation, officers watched a video of the suspect handling a catalytic converter at the rear tailgate of the victim’s vehicle. The suspect also has pending charges for taking a motor vehicle, trafficking in stolen property, and multiple arrest warrants.
The suspect's vehicle was impounded for a search warrant. In the vehicle search, officers seized seven catalytic converters, three electric Sawzall’s, three manual saws, dozens of metal cutting blades, lock picks, shaved keys, several floor jacks and stands, and other tools related to the theft of vehicles and auto parts.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), catalytic converter thefts have seen a significant increase across the country since March of 2020, the start of the global pandemic.
“Vehicle thefts, carjackings, and break-ins are all crimes we’ve witnessed trending upward for several months, and now catalytic converter thefts are also on the rise,” said David Glawe, President and CEO of NICB. “We have seen a significant increase during the pandemic. It's an opportunistic crime. As the value of the precious metals contained within the catalytic converters continues to increase, so do the number of thefts of these devices. There is a clear connection between times of crisis, limited resources, and disruption of the supply chain that drives investors towards these precious metals.”
A catalytic converter is a device that looks like a small muffler along with the exhaust system. It is designed to convert the environmentally hazardous exhaust emitted by an engine into less harmful gasses. To do this, manufacturers use platinum, palladium, or rhodium. In recent years, the values of these precious metals have increased significantly. As of December 2020, rhodium was valued at $14,500 per ounce, palladium at $2,336 per ounce, and platinum going for $1,061 per ounce. Typically, recyclers will pay $50 to $250 per catalytic converter. https://www.nicb.org/news/news-releases/catalytic-converter-theft-skyrocketing-nationwide